Fox's Varney Demonizes UAW's “Sweetheart Deal” With GM By Telling Half The Story

Fox Business host Stuart Varney claimed that the United Auto Workers received a “sweetheart deal” from General Motors, largely because the deal includes a $5,000 signing bonus for every worker. But Varney didn't mention that the signing bonus reportedly takes the place of cost-of-living wage increases in the deal or that the deal will reopen a Tennessee assembly plant and reduce GM's overall labor costs during the lifetime of the contract.

Varney, Others Note That Deal Includes $5,000 Signing Bonus ...

Varney: “What They've Come Up With Is Basically, In My Opinion, A Sweetheart Deal For The Unions.” From the September 19 edition of America Live:

MEGYN KELLY (host): We also have a developing story in Detroit where GM has reached a tentative new labor deal with the United Auto Workers, according to reports. The Associated Press reporting that the four-year contract includes higher entry-level pay, a sweeter profit-sharing plan for the union workers, and a $5,000 signing bonus. Some analysts say that is good news, since the union was reportedly hoping to land bonuses of up to 10,000 a worker.

Stu Varney is with the Fox Business network and the host of Varney & Company. The signing bonus goes to people who already have jobs, who are already working there?

VARNEY: The signing bonus goes to $5,000 each to 48,500 regular workers at General Motors. Everybody who works at GM, everybody on the line gets $5,000.

KELLY: Why do you get a signing bonus if you already have the job there? Isn't a signing bonus used to lure someone into the job?

VARNEY: Yes, good point. Let me give you some context here. The taxpayer -- that is, the government -- owns 26 percent of General Motors, 500 million shares. The government, therefore, has a very heavy influence on these contract negotiations. And what they've come up with is basically, in my opinion, a sweetheart deal for the unions.

As you enumerated there, Megyn, it's a four-year deal, $5,000 to every single worker. No worker will pay a dime extra for health care coverage. That's different from the rest of America. There'll be new hires, there'll be more profit-sharing, and that $56 per hour for regular workers will be maintained.

Now, this is as the economy goes on the brink of recession. Car sales are weak. I believe that this is a sweetheart deal for the unions and that, essentially, this is a politicized contract agreement because the president, the administration want to favor the unions and want to be seen to be doing precisely that.

KELLY: Well, they did cut them down from $10,000 signing bonuses to $5,000 signing bonuses, Stu. But you know, I don't understand, because normally a signing bonus -- you can argue about whether they should get pay races and all. But a signing bonus, normally it's to lure somebody into the job or to prevent them from quitting. I mean, in this economy was there a realistic possibility that these thousands of union members were going to quit and go someplace else and they needed that five grand to keep them on board?

VARNEY: No. Absolutely out of the question. That $5,000 is not to keep them on board. That is a nice sweet deal demanded by the unions. Remember, the unions are beholden to the administration. The administration is beholden to the unions. They want a relationship that really works. And a $5,000 signing bonus, more new hires of union workers, extra profit-sharing, no increase in health care costs to the worker -- that's a very sweet deal. [Fox News, America Live, 9/19/11]

Hoft: “Government Motors Awards Union Workers $5,000 Signing Bonus.” From a post on Jim Hoft's Gateway Pundit blog, headlined Government Motors Awards Union Workers $5,000 Signing Bonus," that failed to give any context on why the $5,000 signing bonus was included in the deal:

Government Motors will award union members a $5,000 signing bonus as part of a new four-year contract. The car company is still part-owned by the US Treasury. In fact, the U.S. Treasury still owns about 26% of GM's shares. [Gateway Pundit, 9/18/11]

Fox Nation Links To Hoft's Post. Fox Nation also quoted text from Hoft and the Associated Press article he excerpted. [Fox Nation, 9/19/11]

... But Not That The Bonus Reportedly Replaces Cost-Of-Living Increases ...

NY Times: "[P]eople Briefed On The Negotiations Said That Workers Would Receive A Signing Bonus Of $5,000 In Lieu Of Cost-Of-Living Wage Increases." From a New York Times article on GM's deal with UAW:

In what is being viewed as a landmark deal, the union also preserved health care and pensions and improved profit-sharing for its roughly 48,000 members who work at G.M.

Officials at G.M. and the union declined to discuss specific terms of the deal. But people briefed on the negotiations said that workers would receive a signing bonus of $5,000 in lieu of cost-of-living wage increases. Entry-level workers, who are paid about $14 an hour, are expected to receive an increase of $2 to $3 an hour.

The company has also agreed to reopen its idled assembly plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., the people said.

The U.A.W.'s tentative, four-year agreement with G.M., announced late Friday, also opens the door for the automaker to bring back laid-off workers and move jobs back into the United States. [The New York Times, 9/17/11]

... Or That The Deal Reportedly Has Other Benefits For GM

AP Sources: TN Plant “Will Be Reopened Under The Deal.” From an Associated Press article on the deal:

Also, a former Saturn assembly plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., will be reopened under the deal, [two people briefed on the talks] people said, and new products have been promised to plants in Romulus, Mich.; Warren, Mich.; and Wentzville, Mo. A plant in Janesville, Wis., which stopped producing trucks in 2009, will remain idled but won't close. [Associated Press, 9/17/11]

AP: Deal “Ensures That GM's Overall Labor Costs Will Fall Over The Lifetime Of The Contract.” From the AP article:

Kristin Dziczek, head of the labor and industry group at the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Center for Automotive Research, said the agreement is a good compromise. It ensures that GM's overall labor costs will fall over the lifetime of the contract, since new hires will be making significantly lower wages than most current workers. But current workers will get economic gains in the form of profit-sharing checks and bonuses.

“They get the preservation of everything they have and money in their pocket,” she said. [Associated Press, 9/17/11]